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Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Andrew Holness (left), converses with Jamaica Stock Exchange (JSE) Chairman, Julian Mair (centre), and Managing Director and Head of Emerging Markets, Fixed Income and Wealth Management at the Jefferies Group, Gregory Fisher, during the JSE’s 15th Capital Markets Regional Conference, at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel in New Kingston earlier this year.
Photo: Rudranath Fraser

Story Highlights

  • On the eve of the opening of the 2020/21 Budget debate, the Government is being hailed for its management of the economy over the last three years, which has positioned the country on a path to achieve higher levels of growth and prosperity for its people.
  • Jamaica Manufacturers and Exporters’ Association (JMEA) President, Richard Pandohie, says the Administration’s stewardship has been “first class” and “deserves all the kudos it gets”.
  • He notes that within recent years, Jamaica’s economic recovery has advanced to the point where “we have been able to graduate from the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) precautionary Stand-By Arrangement (SBA)”.

On the eve of the opening of the 2020/21 Budget debate, the Government is being hailed for its management of the economy over the last three years, which has positioned the country on a path to achieve higher levels of growth and prosperity for its people.

Jamaica Manufacturers and Exporters’ Association (JMEA) President, Richard Pandohie, says the Administration’s stewardship has been “first class” and “deserves all the kudos it gets”.

He notes that within recent years, Jamaica’s economic recovery has advanced to the point where “we have been able to graduate from the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) precautionary Stand-By Arrangement (SBA)”.

“So, full ratings for the stewardship. It demonstrates that if our back is against the wall, we can execute what is required to move ahead… and there is evidence that the fiscal discipline is continuing,” Mr. Pandohie tells JIS News.

Jamaixa Manufacturers and Exporters’ Association President, Richard Pandohie

 

Managing Director at United States-based investment banking entity, the Jefferies Group, Gregory Fisher, says Jamaica’s extraordinary economic turnaround, has proven “beyond the shadow of a doubt [to be] a successful model for [macroeconomic] change”.

He says data indicate that Jamaica tops the 11 developing countries reducing their debt to gross domestic product (GDP) ratio by more than 40 per cent.

The national debt, which rose to nearly 150 per cent of GDP, is on course to fall below 92 per cent by the end of March 2020.

Additionally, the country has recorded 20 consecutive quarters and seven consecutive years of economic growth; low inflation averaging in and around the four and six per cent target range; generated net international reserves (NIR) totalling approximately US$3.1 billion, and non-borrowed reserves amounting to US$2.56 billion, which is above the Government’s target; and a fall in unemployment to an all-time record low of 7.2 per cent as at October 2019.

“That’s remarkable within the context of subpar economic growth and reckless fiscal behaviour elsewhere in the world. Jamaica’s [economic standing] is now in stark contrast to several other developing and developed countries… [and for] that I say congratulations,” Mr. Fisher notes.

He was speaking at the Jamaica Stock Exchange’s (JSE) capital markets regional conference in Kingston earlier this year.

Mr. Fisher, who is also Head of Emerging Markets, Fixed Income and Wealth Management at Jefferies, says that Jamaica’s gradual emergence from its economic challenges has repositioned the country as “the glowing gem of the Caribbean… that must be polished and taken care of if it’s going to maintain its glow”.

He notes that as the Administration continues to implement the economic reforms, focus must be placed on tackling the impediments to growth, such as crime.

“This is no time to rest; there is still much work that needs to be done,” he pointed out.

“Jamaica must not rest on the accolades, because there is more potential here… it’s incredible,” he adds.

Meanwhile, Jamaica Employers’ Federation (JEF) President, David Wan, lauds the Administration for focusing on maintaining and continuing policies and programmes that will benefit the country over the medium to long-term.

Jamaica Employers’ Federation President, David Wan.

 

“There have been and are many plans and ideas on the table, both in government and the private sector, but what we have lacked a lot, is implementation. I think this current Administration has done a very effective job at continuity of projects… in terms of ideas they have found on the table and conceptualising and implementing new ones, since taking office,” he tells JIS News.

Among these, Mr. Wan notes, are the multibillion-dollar legacy road and infrastructure development projects in the Corporate Area, St. Catherine and Westmoreland that have either been concluded or are nearing completion; the impending Southern Coastal Highway Improvement Project; and the Morant Bay new town development in St. Thomas.

“I think I have heard Prime Minister Holness say that he is focused on being an implementer… [and] is indifferent to whose idea it is… that even if it’s somebody else’s idea, ‘let us try to execute it’,” he adds.

Jamaica Chamber of Commerce (JCC) Director, Warren McDonald, also concurs that the Administration’s focus on maintaining and enhancing policies and programmes that will drive macroeconomic stability is “positive and a big plus for the country”.

He points out that based on the business and consumer confidence indices “there is a lot of satisfaction with the Administration at this time… [and] optimism that things will continue to improve”.

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